Request for Information: Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO)

In 2000, Congress authorized a study of children's health and development - the National Children’s Study (NCS) - as part of the Children's Health Act. In response to a 2014 IOM report and a review by a working group of the Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) of NIH, Dr. Collins accepted the ACD’s recommendation to discontinue the NCS, while emphasizing that the overall goals of the NCS should remain a priority for future NIH scientific support.


To make best use of fiscal year (FY) 2015 appropriated funds, NIH identified opportunities to address challenges at the intersection of child and environmental health through alternative approaches that are consistent with the original goals of the NCS. A major focus is the development of tools to enhance measurement of environmental exposures (e.g., physical, chemical, biological, psychosocial). Another key component is studying environmental influence on placental and in utero development to identify the “seeds” of future diseases and conditions. Finally, by leveraging extant programs, the plan aims to expand examination of environmental influences on later child development. The Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) were released earlier this year and applications currently are under review.


Going forward, NIH has begun developing the FY 2016 plan for the new program – Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO). The overarching goal of ECHO is to investigate the longitudinal impact of prenatal, perinatal, and postnatal environmental exposures on pediatric health outcomes with high public health impact by leveraging and expanding extant cohorts. To do so, NIH proposes to support multiple synergistic, longitudinal studies using extant cohorts that represent variable environmental exposures (e.g., physical, chemical, biological, psychosocial, natural and built environments) that will share standardized research questions and focus on four key pediatric outcomes – upper and lower airway; obesity; pre-, peri-, and postnatal outcomes; and neurodevelopment. All longitudinal studies will collect the same standardized, targeted data (Core Elements) as a component of the project, and will be managed through a Coordinating Center. An additional opportunity for creating an IDeA States National Pediatric Clinical Research Network also is being considered. In keeping with the spirit of the NCS, this new program aims to address the critical goal of understanding the impact of environmental influences on children’s health and development.


I invite you to review the FY16 plan for ECHO in our Request for Information (RFI;, and provide your feedback via the submission site ( I encourage organizations (e.g., patient advocacy groups, professional organizations) to submit a single response reflective of the views of the organization/membership as a whole. We also will be hosting webinars to gather additional input. These webinars will be held on July 22, July 27, and July 29. For additional information and to register, please visit the registration site (


Your input is vital to ensuring that the ECHO program will direct research at the intersection of child and environmental health on a promising and visionary path, and I appreciate your time and consideration in assisting us with this effort.  




Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D.

Principal Deputy Director, NIH